Helicobacter Pylori or H. Pylori is a type of gram-negative bacteria that can cause serious issues in the stomach.
How does someone develop a H. pylori infection?
It can be passed from person to person living in the same household through saliva, vomit or fecal matter. Or, you can be infected by drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food.
Wondering what the signs and symptoms of a H. pylori infection are? Let’s take a look:
- Burning in the stomach or a stomachache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain that gets worse when you don’t eat
- Loss of appetite
- Unintentional weight loss
- Heartburn and acid reflux
Health concerns with H. pylori you should know about:
Aside from symptoms listed above, (which, by the way, are not common for many people. In fact, some people are asymptomatic and don’t realize that it could eventually cause other health issues) an H. pylori infection can cause considerable health issues.
- It can suppress our parietal cells which release Hydrochloric Acid (HCL). Reducing HCL can lead to iron, B12 and calcium malabsorption, contributing to anemia, malnutrition and osteoporosis.
- Additionally, low HCL can reduce diversity in our microbiomes and eventually contribute to Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth.
- If that isn’t enough, it can also lead to increased risk of cancer, autoimmunity, gastritis, type 1 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
How to determine if you have H. pylori
Anytime you have recurring stomach pain or digestive issues, you would want to reach out to a trusted practitioner. There are different ways of assessing whether or not you have contracted H. pylori.
A blood test can be run to see if you are producing antibodies for H. pylori. Honestly, this is the least effective option but can still be useful for starters.
You can speak with your GI Specialist about an upper endoscopy. This is a procedure that requires light sedation. They thread a long, flexible tube with a camera through the upper part of your digestive tract, down into your stomach where H. pylori can be found. They are able to visually see any inflammation and also take biopsy samples to test.
If you do have an H. pylori infection, your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics. If you don’t want to go that route, there are botanical protocols that can serve the same purpose. Creating an environment that H. pylori finds it difficult to thrive in by working with a practitioner who can help determine your levels of HCL and the right supplemental dose for your body is really important as well.
In our opinion, the best option is a comprehensive stool test that can detect proteins associated with an infection related to H. pylori. It is very reliable, and not only detects the bacteria but also quantifies it. All stool tests are not created equally by the way. We only run gold standard stool tests.
One thing that is sometimes helpful for people experiencing the symptoms above, is to reduce your intake of spicy foods, alcohol and caffeinated beverages like sodas, coffee, and some teas. This can help ease symptoms if you have any. That said, this is not the fix, it is only a means to relieve symptoms that are really trying to tell you that something needs your attention. Heed the warnings.
Eating small meals more frequently can also be beneficial if you experience stomach pain or burning when you haven’t eaten.
If you have unexplained upper GI issues, reach out and let’s chat!